Bruce Schneier leaving 'security futurologist' position at telco employer BT

Security and privacy expert Bruce Schneier splits from telco employer after 8 years as “security futurologist;” BT denies Schneier's outspoken criticism of government surveillance played any role in the ending the work relationship.

What does the future hold for security and privacy expert Bruce Schneier after parting ways with the UK telecommunications company BT Group? It's where Schneier was employed for eight years as a security futurologist. Schneier said of his future plans: "Answer cloudy, ask again later."

The Register first reported the employment change after receiving a leaked BT internal email.

Schneier has spent months analyzing NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden and writing about government surveillance; the telco denied that Schneier's outspoken criticism played any role in ending the work relationship as of the end of December 2013.

The Guardian previously reported that BT, Vodafone and Verizon gave Britain's spy agency GCHQ "secret unlimited access to their network of undersea cables" and has been "passing on details of their customers' phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries." However, BT brushed it off by saying it was "no different from any other large private sector firm in the UK."

According to The Register, the BT internal email from Mark Hughes, CEO, BT Security, stated, "I would like to announce that Bruce Schneier, BT's security futurologist, is leaving the company after eight years. Bruce joined BT in 2006 as part of the Counterpane acquisition and has been a great asset to the company."

"Government and industry have betrayed the internet, and us," announced Schneier back in September. "By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract." He added, "I have resisted saying this up to now, and I am saddened to say it, but the US has proved to be an unethical steward of the internet. The UK is no better."

At the recent USENIX conference, Schneier proposed making better use of encryption and making government surveillance more costly. "What the NSA leaks show is that 'we have made surveillance too cheap. We have to make surveillance expensive again,' Schneier said. 'The goal should be to force the NSA, and all similar adversaries, to abandon wholesale collection in favor of targeted collection'." He added, "The way to thwart such invasions of privacy is to raise the cost of collecting data en masse."

When The Register inquired if Schneier leaving had "anything to do with his recent critical commentaries on the dragnet surveillance," BT denied it.

We hired Bruce because of his thought leadership in security and as part of our acquisition of Counterpane. We have agreed to part ways as we felt our relationship had run its course and come to a natural end. It has nothing to do with his recent blogs. We hired Bruce because of his thought leadership in security, not because we agree with everything he says. In fact, it's his ability to challenge our assumptions that made him especially valuable to BT.

We wish Bruce every success in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions to the company and the industry.

Yet The Register's source said, "Schneier was shown the door because of his recent comments about the NSA and GCHQ's mass surveillance activities."

Whatever his future plans, I'm sure Schneier will keep fighting the good fight for We the People and all netizens.

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